Motor Trend News

But many men and women find that they need to change their car battery every 1 to 2 years.

Why is this?

And what can you do to prolong your vehicle’s battery life?

We’ll show you why automobile batteries die early…and what you can do to keep this from happening.

We’ll also offer you 8 easy tips and techniques to maximize the lifespan of your car’s 12 volt battery.

The tips we will teach you in this guide will be easy to do…and anyone will have the ability to do these (even if you know nothing about cars or car batteries).

So let’s get started! …

First, You Ought to Know That Every Car Battery’s Lifespan Has A Limit (but most people kill their battery well before it’s time)

Even if you care for your car battery perfectly…it will still die 1 day.

This set lifespan is known as the battery’s”Calendar Life” and it is completely independent of how often the battery has been charged or discharged.

But most car batteries never make it their complete”Calendar Life”…

Instead, they die early because of poor maintenance and maintenance…which you can do something about.

A Little Background About Lead Acid Batteries Before Our 8 Battery Tips and Tricks…

Lead acid batteries are the oldest, most dependable, and most widely used type of rechargeable battery in the world.

  • Formatting is when the battery is new and has to be used gently.

  • Peak is the perfect performance phase, which we attempt to keep for as long as possible.

  • Decline is a slow process, but one which slowly ends in the termination of the battery.

Batteries in decline can nevertheless be used for quite some time, but have to be watched.

Around this time, you may either recondition the battery or keep a close eye on it and try to replace it until a problem arises (like being unable to begin your car for work).

Tip 1: Do a monthly review of the battery terminals to make sure they’re clean and corrosion free.   One of the initial problems most people have with their car battery is the build-up of corrosion around the terminals.   Corrosion destroys the connection between the battery and the vehicle and many batteries are replaced due to too much corrosive build up.   But often times, this can be easily treated simply by pouring a small quantity of Cola or a DIY anti-corrosion glue (one part water to three parts baking soda) over the corroded areas. 

The acidity in the Cola or the alkaline properties in the DIY anti-corrosion paste will eat the corrosion away.   After the corrosion is gone, use a clean damp rag or sponge to clean up the remaining residue and moisture.  Make certain to let it dry, then rub some petroleum jelly on the terminals to prevent future corrosion.

Tip 2: Don’t run any car accessories (radio, lights, or electronics) before turning on the car ignition and driving the vehicle.   When the car is on, the auto alternator generates electricity and charges the car battery after the battery has a voltage drop.   But if the car isn’t on, and you are using the car’s electronics, you’re simply relying on the car battery to power those electronic equipment. 

This is damaging to the car battery because car batteries aren’t meant for this type of use.

Rather, car batteries are meant to offer a sudden burst of electricity for ignition.  They’re not made to offer prolonged power for electronics and other devices (that is what a deep cycle lead acid battery would be for).   Using your car battery as a battery that powers electronics, rather than a battery that just gives you a burst of power for ignition, will damage the battery and greatly shorten it’s lifespan if it is repeatedly utilized in this fashion.   So avoid operating any car accessories or electronics while the vehicle is off.

Tip 3: Make sure the car battery is safe and has good battery wires.   The battery has to be secured at all times.  If a battery is jostling around it will be impaired and could short circuit.   This may ruin the battery and even cause damage to your car whilst creating a security risk.   The same could happen if you have bad battery cables (or they’re not connected correctly ).  So check your cables and be sure they have a secure connection as well.

Protecting your car battery from big changes in temperature will help maximize the battery’s lifespan.   To do this you can use a car battery insulating material.   Newer model cars currently have these kits installed typically.  But if your car does not have one, you can easily install one yourself.   Just be certain it matches your car’s battery compartment.  Generally the companies selling these battery insulation kits will have a form on their site where you can place in your car model and year, and it will tell you if your battery will fit their kit — such as here (top of page).   These protective battery sleeves are typically made from plastic or an acid resistant, thermal resistant material.   These car battery insulation kits will insulate your battery and protect it while still allowing appropriate ventilation.

Tip 5: Fully charge your car battery at least once a week (use a car battery charger or shut-off if you have to).   Your car battery drains even when the vehicle is off.  That happens because current is drawn from the battery by car accessories (radio, lights, etc.) or even the car computers.   This is the reason why folks come home from long holidays and locate their car battery dead.   But to avoid this, you can use either a car battery charger or a solar battery charger. 

Car battery chargers (regular or solar) will keep the optimum charge level of your car battery when the vehicle is not being used.   They do this by providing enough electricity for your car accessories and car computer, so that they do not always draw current from the car battery when the vehicle is off.   As you can imagine, these chargers are extremely useful…especially if you go on a trip or leave your car unused for a while.  They’re also helpful if you go on a lot of short car trips (like to work and back daily ) and never give your battery a chance to fully recharge.  Repeatedly doing so can dramatically enhance your battery’s life — unless you use a car battery charger or interchange batteries, leaving you at home to fully control.   The most important thing to remember with this suggestion is…be sure you fully charge your car battery at least once a week since it’ll greatly increase the life of your battery.  Do this using a charger, interchanging batteries…or simply going on a car ride long enough to recharge the battery.

Tip 6: Check your car battery’s water level.   Most car batteries indicate whether there’s a need for water.   So check the car battery water level indicator frequently and when water is required, refill the battery with distilled water (and that’s significant, ONLY use distilled water to refill your vehicle battery).

Never overcharge your car battery. Lead-acid batteries release hydrogen and oxygen gases when they’re overcharged.  

  1. It can be volatile.

  2. It also breaks down the composition of the water in the battery — which shortens its lifespan

Tip 8: Check your car’s alternator.   If you’re doing everything we’ve recommended in this guide but your car batteries are dying early, you’ll want to look at your car’s alternator (or get a mechanic to check it).   If your alternator is bad it will results in ineffective recharging of your battery and dramatically shorten your battery’s lifespan.